Being told you have to have a root canal is never something you want to hear and for many, it results in instant panic. While root canals are actually a fairly common dental procedure, most people seem to equate it with major surgery and immediately wince at the amount of pain they believe they will be in. However, a lot of this fear comes from the fact that many people don’t actually know what root canals entail. Here is an outline of what you can expect from a root canal that may help calm your worries.
The Definition of a Root Canal
Root canals are done to stop the decay and death of a tooth. They will not restore the tooth to normal because the tooth is dying, but they will help preserve it so that it does not have to be extracted. While you could have the tooth pulled and have an implant put in, it’s easier to keep your original tooth and even if the root of the tooth is dead, you can still chew with it.
First, though, the dead root needs to be removed. That’s what a root canal does. It removes the dead inside of the tooth, leaving behind the part you actually eat with. Unfortunately, without the interior, the tooth becomes weaker. This is why your dentist will tell you that you’ll need to have a follow-up procedure to place a crown on the tooth. The crown sits over the tooth and makes it stronger.
How Long Will It Take?
You can expect to spend several hours at your dentist’s office and during most of that time, your mouth will need to be open as wide as possible so the dentist can work. For many people that becomes very uncomfortable after just a few minutes. The dentist may have music or an audiobook to help distract you, or you can bring something yourself.
The Process Itself
Before your dentist starts to scrape out the insides of a tooth, he or she will give you an anesthetic to numb your entire mouth. This will be stronger than what you would be given for something like a filling due to the fact that the dentist will be removing a nerve. During the procedure itself, you should feel no pain at all. X-rays will then be done to make certain that everything is lined up and prepared to remove the root.
It’s possible your dentist will want to do the root canal over the course of several visits. That is an option, and some dentists prefer doing it that way. Neither way is better than the other, so it comes down to your dentist’s preference and what you want to do.